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I'm trying my hand at harvesting wild yeast...(photos of the progress)

Scott Ickes

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As the subject line states, I'm trying to harvest wild yeast from my garden.

I followed the suggestions of Michael Tonsmiere from his website (link below)...

http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2011/04/ambient-spontaneous-yeast-starters.html

I started by making up 1 liter of 1.030 hopped (with a small handful of aged Magnum hops) starter, with a small dose of yeast nutrient.  I cooled it down to 75F and then poured into my starter flask.  I didn't aerate the wort, but I also wasn't careful about creating foaming as I poured it in.  I then threw in a small handful of raspberries from my garden and two over-ripe strawberries from my garden.  I then put an airlock on it.  It's in my garage/home brewery at about 63F ambient temperature.

A friend/homebrewer of mine harvests yeast from fruits and honey quite often and has made some excellent beers with wild yeasts, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.  Most of his end up with a Belgiany thing happening, which would be alright by me.

I have a photo of the flask right after throwing in the fruit and one from 24 hours later.  The close up photo is Day 2.  Nothing happening yet, but....we'll see how it progresses.

 

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Maine Homebrewer

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My first thought was a sourdough starter. You put a bowl of flour and water in the open window, and let the wind seed it.

I've had good results doing that for bread. Never tried it for beer.

Maybe a bowl of mash in the window catch some indigenous yeast you could use for a brew.

My thought would be that more than yeast is going to settle in. You'll catch bacteria as well. With a bread that's OK since you're going to bake it. You don't have to worry about botox leaving poison behind. It requires anaerobic conditions. But this wild yeast is something you add post-boil. And it might contain hitchhikers that taste bad.  I doubt sulphites like Campden tablets would help, since their main purpose is to stun wild yeast and let the domesticated yeast take over.That's the opposite of what you're doing.

Keep posting. I am interested in seeing how this turns out.
 

TAHammerton

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I am very interested in how this works out.

I think we are all used to dealing with yeast by the 100 billion cell count, and a project like this is probably starting with a lot less than a million. Could take a while.....
 

Scott Ickes

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I made a honey wheat that my wife really liked.  So I did the same thing with the dregs from the last bottle.  I was able to get enough yeast by stepping the starter up a few times to pitch another batch, six months after I made the first batch.  It turned out exactly the same when using yeast propogated from the bottle dregs.
 

bobo1898

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Were there any results on this?

I followed the Mike's link over a month ago but I didn't add fruit as you did. I made hopped (aged) wort without nutrient. Capped the starter in a growler and observed varying airlock activity over the course of a month. It had a tomato-y/spicy smell.

I tried to step it up and toss it on a stir plate for 5 days and observed no activity. I did a gravity test and found that it hadn't dropped any points at all. Ended up dumping it.

Overnight temp on starter day was 45-50 degrees. It eventually cooled down and brought to 66-68 with an airlock.
 

Cheetos

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I have harvested yeast several times from various fruits, my favorite being raspberries.  I will drop a few raspberries into some starter wort and it usually takes a week or so at 70ish temps to show any signs of fermentation.  Let me just warn you that the results from this step usually smell pretty bad.  Sometimes vomit or sweaty socks, or even strong cheese.  Once fermentation is done, usually around the 2 week mark, cold crash, decant, and pitch into another starter.  Do this 3 or 4 times to build up the cell count and you should be good to go.  Taste each step and make sure the flavor profile is going the way you want.  I've had about 50% success this way and most wild yeasts do have Belgian Saison characteristics.
 
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